We’ve know personal defense trainers who will tell you that one of the best self defense tools you can carry is a good flashlight. If you’re in a dark parking lot or garage and someone begins to approach you, they teach that clicking on your light and shining it at the person can make them change their mind. A bright beam directed in the face will make almost anyone stop and shade their eyes, giving you time to assess the situation.
That’s why a lot of people make sure that — along with a gun and a knife — they don’t leave home without some kind of light in their pocket. And there’s virtually nowhere you can’t carry one.
Streamlight rolled out the new Macrostream USB flashlight at January’s SHOT Show and I’ve been carrying it and playing with it for months now. It’s a one AA-size everyday carry light with two brightness settings that’s capable of generating enough output to illuminate just about any situation.
You’ve probably seen their uber-popular Microstream, a one AAA light, that’s a favorite of everyday gear carriers. The Macrostream USB is about an inch longer and, of course, thicker. But while the Microstream puts out a mere 45 lumens (a USB version can generate as much as 250 lumens) the Macrostream can generate as much as 500 lumens. And it’s big enough to use as an improvised weapon if you had to.
The Microstream USB beam is rated at 90 meters and throws a wide, even field of light.
As you might have guessed, the USB in Macrostream USB means the light is rechargeable.
The charging port is concealed under an O-ring sealed sliding shroud. The port glows red while charging and goes green when it’s complete.
The Macrostream USB actuates with a rubber end cap switch. One click gives you full 500 lumen output. A quick partial press followed by another gives you 50 lumens of lower power, perfect for most indoor situations when you only need to see where you’re going or light up a dark area without killing your night vision.
While the Macrostream USB is a one AA-size light, it won’t work on AA cells. That’s a shame, because AA batteries are available everywhere. The good news is that the Streamlight’s rechargeable lithium ion battery will give you eight hours of low power use and two hours at full output.
Streamlight says a full charge takes four hours. I’ve never run it all the way down, so can’t testify to that, but whenever I’ve wanted to top off the battery’s charge, it’s never taken more than about 30 minutes at most.
Unlike more tactical lights, the Streamlight USB doesn’t have a crenelated bezel, which can be useful in a defensive situation. If you’re someone who wants standard AA battery capability in a more tactical flashlight design, you’ll probably want to look at Streamlight’s PROTAC 1L-1AA. It has a crenelated bezel and a shrouded end cap switch. Then again, it only puts out 350 lumens, has a shorter high end run time, and weighs a little more.
Like almost all of Steamlight’s flashlights, the Macrostream has a two-way clip.
The clip lets you put the light on the bill of your hat and use it as a head lamp.
What makes the Macrostream USB a great choice as an EDC light is that it’s so light weight. A mere 2.2 ounces barely registers in your pocket, so you won’t give it a second thought as you go about your appointed rounds. It’s IPX4 rated for water resistance, so you can get it wet without worry (though it’s not rated for complete submersion).
The Macrostream USB comes with a lanyard, and charging cord for about $70.
Here we go…are you ready? No caliber wars today, so instead we’ll have the Flashlight Wars. Streamlight, Olight, Surefire, et al. Everybody has a favorite.
I’ll stick with my Olights for a variety of reasons, including the fantastic magnetic charging. No micro USB ports that get clogged with lint or dust particulates.
I have the MICROstream version of this (smaller one shown in the second photo). Where the cover slides forward to access the USB port, there is a rubber O-ring that seals it (O-ring can be seen in the ‘charging’ photo). I’ve never had an issue with lint in there. Yes, extra features can provide an extra point of failure but I’ve not encountered it yet with the microstream.
I also have an older Surefire light that used their incandescent light assembly. Recently dug it out & swapped the assembly for a newer LED assembly. Fallen in love all over again with the Surefire…
I’ve carried a standard battery microstream for years. There are better lights, but I haven’t found a better bang for the buck flashlight that’s readily available locally.
There are literally only 4 items that I carry on body all day er’ day. Phone, flashlight, knife, gun. Even my wallet, goes in the man purse.
I can shoot it and get another one for free with no questions asked.
From where I’m sitting I can see four Surefire lights. That’s just what’s in the living room. I do have one Streamlight. It’s given good service, but Surefire is where it’s at.
Yup, my Surefire P6 LED with a 5-dollar China upgrade lamp is my EDC.
I tried to bore it so I could cram a 18650 cell in there, but ended up cracking a chunk of the tailcap threads off.
Then I discovered I didn’t need to bore it in the first place. *16650* cells are the the same diameter as the 123A cells, and an exact double height. A Solarforce clip is heavy stainless, and works like a charm…
My original EDC is a Gen 1 Surefire from 1995. Still in my nightstand as a backup, and still at the ready with fresh batteries. Back then, its Krylon bulb was a quantum leap forward over regular Maglights that used standard D-cell batteries and weighed a ton. For two decades it served as my go-to until the Cree bulb technology made its way onto the scene. But it’s simple, effective, works as intended. Will keep it forever.
All my others are Olights.
Well, something along those lines. It’s been so long now…
I still have several Mags and MiniMags scattered around, although I converted them with LED cartridges. Awful tough flashlights.
I’ve had one of these attached to my keys for about a decade now, to the point that the finish has worn almost completely away. Excellent little light.
Well, mine’s the single AAA version and not the USB, but everything else still applies. Besides, I’d rather just chuck a bad battery and pull a fresh one out of the glove box than have to hunt for a charger and wait a few hours to keep using my light.
This. Own 2x AAA micros
I have one (AAA micro) on my hip right now.
Don’t buy if you can’t confirm the type of battery. On Amazon it says it uses a CR123A photo battery. The picture of the battery in this article is not one of those and the author obviously doesn’t know what battery it uses or would have said it. The battery shown looks like a rechargeable AA battery. To me, it appears to be too small to be an 18650.
Streamlight offers “dual fuel” capability in many of their lights. You can use either AA or CR123.
Also, I would be weary of ordering one of these from Amazon. They are overrun with Chinese knockoffs. I got a fake Streamlight from them, and it was sold and shipped directly from Amazon. Not a 3rd party seller.
Roger that. A family member ordered what he thought was a Streamlight off of Amazon as a Christmas gift for me a couple of years ago. Upon unwrapping & inspection, it was a poor knockoff under the name “Streemlyte”. Works okay, but a bit awkward for belt/pocket EDC. We had a good laugh.
It defaults to strobe mode when turned on (and has SOS mode), so it’s relegated as a backup for my vehicle’s roadside emergency kit.
PL14500 would be the answer according to this review and the pictures that are included… https://www.offgridweb.com/gear/first-impressions-streamlight-macrostream-usb-flashlight/
and as far as price goes… LA Police Gear is as reliable as it gets and they are both cheaper and better friends of the gun than amazon. $46.99 https://lapolicegear.com/st-66320-macrostream-usb-flashlight.html
Boy howdy I certainly wish they’d have had flashlights like these during my raccoon hunting days.
My grandfather had me hold the light on coon hunts. The big lantern batteries and as a 6 year old they were heavy.
Thanks Possum, that brought back some good memories .
When I was a kid, we used carbide lanterns.
Cleaner and brighter than the old EverReady Captain of the day.
Some old timers swore the carbide light didnt spook animals like an incandescent bulb did.
I never noticed that …….
Ah yes. I carried a big 6 volt dry cell light in one hand, to illuminate the critters up in the trees as needed, plus a kerosene lantern in the other hand to give us the required 360° visible white light. Then I graduated to a Nite Lite hard hat style, that used a gel battery pack that hung on my belt. Hands free made life easier, used it for trapping also. Still have it, although LEDs have taken over for good reason.
Runs on a proprietary battery (Streamlight 66321).
Yeah, no thanks.
“Runs on a proprietary battery”
This 16650 cell is an exact double-height of a 123A cell and is what’s in my P6 :
It’s not a 16650. It’s a Streamlight 66321.
“The Streamlight 66321 MacroStream® battery is compatible with MacroStream USB rechargeable flashlight only.” (emphasis mine).
I agree proprietary batteries is a negative, I was advising you on a drop-in non-proprietary battery you can use in older Surefires like the P6…
The 16650 is also the battery of choice for a variety high-end laser pointers… you know, if you want to join Antifa as a “light mage”.
I’ve owned several Streamlights through the years, and I’ve been completely happy with them. From the tiny Nanos to a full size Stinger, Lanterns and Area Lights, I’ve had only 1 that failed, and under the circumstances of its failure, I wouldn’t expect any light, from any manufacturer to survive.
Would I turn down an Olite or Surefire at a good price? No way. Generally though, Streamlights have been a bit easier on my wallet.
All my flashlights are either Surefire or Streamlight. Neither has ever let me down. Pricey? Yes, but then I think about dealing with the POS flashlights I’ve gone through before and it makes it all ok. Remember the days of those bulky 2 D flashlights that had terrible light output and required whacking them or shaking them every minute or so to keep them on? I do and don’t miss them lol.
I’ve been considering an Olight, they are interesting with the magnetic charger and I laugh every time I say “dongle”.
At least Maglites are made in America and they aren’t that horrible. At least you don’t have to rush in to charge them. Keep your Chinese crap. They’ll own us soon enough, so just keep buying from them.
Your assumptions are wrong. Weird huh?
Surefire are designed and built in the US, not China. Streamlight builds in the US and overseas. My Streamlight Strion is built in America so save your condemnation for something that actually applies.
Love Streamlight. Wish I had seen this before I ordered my OLight 500 lumen, but I’m sure it will be great.
I suppose this is Chinese made. Which lights and gear are NOT made in the PRC? I’d love to know.
If you don’t tell me where it is made, it is probably Red China. Keep it.
In addition, I don’t want to have to fool with recharging. If necessary, I want to throw another battery or two in and keep going.
Haven’t played with the MacroStream. Looks neat.
I EDC a Stylus Pro (several years). Long and slender, it sits well in the back side of my left hand pocket.
I keep a 2AA Protac in my console and a 3C Maglite in my door.
Lots of good lights out there. Some in very small packages.
No need to take out a loan for a Surefire. I once spend 120 bucks on the Defender. Went through bulbs like candy. When they came out with the LED version, I called to order a bezel to upgrade mine. It was 10 bucks less than a complete LED Defender.
I gave the Surefire away and see no need to go back.
Surefire lives on the teat of government POs. They dont need my money.
After getting an Italian made red dot that runs on a 2032 I’ve been put off from having electronics on firearms that come with wired in chargers. I’m not even sure there is such a thing as a rechargeable 2032. But that’s only a factor after discovering that the connector in the device that the charger plugs into is so loose that it wouldn’t work right even if I found the right battery.
Weapon lights and red dots need wireless chargers. Maybe a cradle for the gun to sit in. Having ANY kind of wire on something like this is not what I would call worth it.
I have Streamlights and Olights, both drop tested, and reliable. Olights have the magnetic chargers and my streamlights have rechargeable CR123A’s and 18650’s with the built in micro USB charger port.
As for EDC, I went from a Olight Mi2 Rider to ProTac 1L-AA to a Protac 2lX to an Olight MR2 Pro Warrior but i think the Olight warrior mini will be the next one. Olights are made in China but are are quality. Remember in the 70’s and 80’s we called Toyotas and Hondas Jap Crap?
I work as a test engineer in a pair of nuclear plants under construction.
I need a dependable light.
I hate that the USB lights just quit when the battery is done.
I also hate being in a dark place and my light goes out.
I carry a Microstream USB and a Macrostream USB.
and because I often have to hand someone else a light, I usually have a Stylus Pro USB in a pocket.
My bike riding buddies always ask “So how many flashlights you got this trip?”
It’s like a NY reload (I follow that principle too).
Easier to have a charged flashlight than to look for batteries in the dark.
Easier to pull another loaded pistol than stop and reload.
I always keep the 350 lumen Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA in my EDC.
Now I usually just use the AA battery for daily use instead of the CR123
This is the second recent streamlight I have seen that is integrated a proprietary battery.
Make it universal, and accepting of CR123A batteries, or no thanks. I can live with rechargeable, and rechargeable without having to remove the battery – so long as I can in fact remove the battery, but if I have to buy your batteries…. Nope.
I have the macro stream usb and the stylus pro usb. Bought the macro wanting higher output, but the light is much more yellow and has a much wider focus. Almost can’t tell the difference in focus point at 15ft. Button on the stylus is much better too IMO. Both good lights though for the price